When it comes to demos, Michael Jackson’s are the best. Recorded in his own home studio they are pretty close to being mastered tracks, with everything from drum techniques to backing vocals all mapped out. They still sound a bit rough but MJ’s perfectionism is still evident, even if it didn’t make the cut on the final album. One of the most interesting is ‘Starlight’. Written by the late Rod Temperton and recorded in 1981, ‘Starlight’ is both weird and fascinating. It’s… well lets listen to it first.
Yep. It’s ‘Thriller’. But it’s not ‘Thriller’. It has the same melody, arrangement, rhythm and singer but with a different title, concept and a whole other set of lyrics. It all sounds so very odd and it raises a lot of questions. Like, how come MJ has a harder time singing the chorus to ‘Starlight’ than he does ‘Thriller’ when the notes are identical? What made Rod Temperton change the entire concept of the song from fame and fortune to monsters and demons? Why is the melody still so spooky? Is it even a spooky melody or do we just associate it as such thanks to ‘Thriller’?
No doubt you’ll end up hearing ‘Thriller’ at some point this month. After hearing ‘Starlight’, you may now hear it with a new perspective. Also, with the recent death of Rod Temperton we can also appreciate how this man he changed an odd sounding demo into a cultural phenomenon.